San Francisco launched its landmark--and controversial--WOOF program (Wonderful Opportunities for Occupants and Fides) last week, pairing panhandlers with dogs. And as expected, the program was popular.
According to SF Weekly, Animal Care and Control staff screened and interviewed dozens of applicants last Monday, finally narrowing the search to ten eligible applicants.
The program is aimed at curbing both panhandling and the growing shelter dog population.
To participate, eligible panhandlers must have stable housing, and must not have a history of violence or hoarding or be seeking treatment for drugs. They also must give up panhandling entirely.
Selected applicants are given a small stipend of $50-75 per week and are temporarily matched with shelter dogs that would otherwise be unadoptable due to behavioral issues. All pet food, check-ups, toys, leaches and other needs are provided by the program.
Animal Care and Control hopes that through fostering parenting and training, the dogs might become ready for permanent adoption.
Though the plan is an innovative one, it is not without its opponents.
Last month PETA and other animal rights activists expressed outrage at the plan, calling it playing "Russian roulette" with dogs with special needs.
"These are exactly the kind of dogs who need extra care and attention, preferably from trained professionals," said PETA spokesperson Daphne Nachminovitch to The Huffington Post. "The last thing that people who are struggling to take care of themselves need is to care for psychologically damaged dogs."
Bevan Dufty, a former city supervisor and San Francisco's point person on homelessness, expressed disappointment with PETA for making assumptions about the homeless community.
"I think there is a tremendous amount of compassion and humanity on the part of individuals that are homeless and I am disappointed that PETA can't tap into that humanity," he said in an interview with CBS.
What do you think of San Francisco's WOOF program?
In the meantime, take a look at some of the currently adoptable animals at San Francisco Animal Care: